Library of Congress staff and guest programmers will create playlists by genre, time period, artist, and other themes, and members of the public will be able to submit their own playlists for consideration for publication on the Jukebox website.

Users also will be able to share their playlists and embed the audio player on social media websites such as Facebook and MySpace.

The collaboration between Sony and the Library of Congress is intended to keep any cost to taxpayers to a minimum and to make the streaming files available quickly. In return, Sony will receive data on which recordings are streamed most frequently to help determine which may have commercial potential.

The Jukebox Project also will include a digitized version of the Victrola Book of the Opera, a guide the Victor label published with opera plot outlines, illustrations, and other aids to expand opera fans’ knowledge and appreciation, along with offerings of their own performances of the works described.

“We’ve scanned the whole book and you can page turn through it, and when you roll the cursor over a particular recording, you can play that selection,” DeAnna said. “For instance, there’s the famous quartet in [Verdi’s] ‘Rigoletto.’ The catalog lists 11 versions, and you can compare Caruso’s to [Irish tenor] John McCormack’s, or the Six Brown Brothers’ saxophone sextet version. There’s also an accordion version.

“You really get the sense there wasn’t such a distinction between highbrow and lowbrow; opera was really part of popular entertainment then,” DeAnna said. “Can you imagine Lady Gaga singing [Mozart’s] ‘Queen of the Night’ on her next CD?”

(c) 2011, Los Angeles Times. Visit the Los Angeles Times on the internet at Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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